Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Who Was It For You?

By David Horn
Director, The Ockenga Institute

His name was Vernon Corneil. To the best of my recollection, he was the very first person who huddled over a wee bundle of kindling that, in time, was to burst into flames. He was the first person who God used to instill a sense of call to ministry in me when I was in my early teens. I am quite sure Mr. Corneil had no idea of the impact he was having on my life. He was a layperson who just took an active interest in me and saw something that was not to be revealed to me for some years hence.

For those of you who are in vocational ministry, who was it for you? Trace your footprints back to the beginnings of your own sense of calling. Who was it that God used, in His providence, to fan the earliest embers of your own sense of service to God? Who first saw your gifts? Who took the risk to spend time with you? Who began to pray for you? Whose imagination went wild when they saw your future? Whose simple but consistent words of encouragement would, in time, be transformed into stouthearted confidence?

I am convinced that one of the great lost practices of the Church today is the purposeful identification and nurturing of its future leaders? Why is this? Have we relegated our responsibilities as pastors and lay leaders to the parachurch organizations? Have we marginalized the opportunity to shape the next generation of Church leaders to the borderlands of our youth program? Have we become so committed to the veracity of one truth—the priesthood of all believers—that we have neglected an equally important truth--the setting apart of some for special service and leadership? Have we leaned too hard on the subjective impulse of the individual that we fail to see an individual’s calling as part of the clarifying work of the larger community of faith?

Look across your sanctuary next Sunday. Can you identify one…two…maybe three individuals who you could see leading your church courageously into the future? Maybe it’s only a hunch that you have. Maybe all that you have is a hunch that some young person will leave your midst and make an impact either in your local church or somewhere else. Taking on the responsibility of identifying and nurturing the future leadership of the Church is risky business. But, what an exciting adventure for you and for a young person who is in the beginning stages of sensing God’s leading in his or her life!

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